January 1, 2012
Having a campaign go viral is widely believed to be the Holy Grail of digital marketing. And while movies have shown that primates have the capacity to spread a virus with incredible speed, we’ve yet to meet a monkey who can single handedly make your video of a kitten-cuddling hippo an overnight success in the fabric softener industry.
So how does a digital campaign gain support and spread? Let’s treat that goal like a virus and work backwards to its origin as we look for clues.
First, or in this case last, we need to understand that not all people are equally susceptible to the same virus. Do all campaigns spread to millions? No. It’s likely that even a successful campaign won’t go viral. You can’t buy the Holy Grail at Costco or find the formula in a secret manuscript. But whether your goal is to reach 100 people or 10 million, a successful campaign needs a catalyst in order to spread. And unlike diseases, viral campaigns usually start with an element of excitement that stems from brand originality.
The virus goes airborne. The campaign is launched to reach the client’s core audience. These loyal brand ambassadors are exposed first in the hopes they’ll spread the virus within their immediate circles of influence. Their excitement is infectious and spreads through their respective communities online. Soon, those not even familiar with the client are intrigued/infected. New consumers/patients are emerging.
Consumers, new and old, are engaging with the client online. We (the agency) are rolling out new parts of the plan. The idea is evolving based on customer feedback. Everyone involved in the campaign is excited.
This is the time when the idea, concocted and isolated in a lab to this point, earns its first victims. This is where the idea is pitched to the client. The pitch conveys the enthusiasm and volume of work that has been invested to this point. Like an antibody, the client may initially try to fight off parts of the idea. The plan may be more radical than their usual marketing or it may involve a new communication channel. This is where agency excitement leads to brand buy-in. Without the trust and support of a client, our plan may simply remain an idea.
Our job as the idea host is to infect the client with excitement. At this point, to stay alive, the idea goes through an adaptation process as the client’s feedback is incorporated. Now the idea is stronger. We’re excited. They’re excited.
As an agency, we’re always excited about our ideas. It’s why we do what we do. When writing a client plan, we tackle the communications challenges from every angle – constantly critiquing and modifying each other’s ideas until we’re satisfied with the solution. We agonize over the wording, strategize how to deploy the message across different media, and project the anticipated audience responses. With each level of refinement, our excitement builds until the final proposal is ready.
Enter Patient Zero. Us. Bridge Nine Interactive. We’re now so excited in this idea that we can’t wait to show our client. And the process begins.
While there’s no surefire way to get your spokeshippo on the evening news, the one important factor in every campaign, viral or otherwise, is to understand that brands succeed online when original ideas lead to excitement among the core audience. Sure, we’re all primates, but we’d like to see a monkey do that.